Dynasty Draft Profile: Justin Hardy April 1, 2015  |  Rich Hribar


 

Measurables

 

FY AgeHeightWeightArmHand
23.07019232 1/810
40YDVertBroad20YSS3Cone
4.5636.51144.216.63

Career Production

YearAgeGmRecReYdsReTDMSYD%
201120.01064658623%
201221.0138811051131%
201322.0131141284830%
201423.01312114941031%

*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage

 

Justin Hardy has been a highly productive player over the past three seasons. Although his raw totals improved each year, so did East Carolina’s volume. His 387 receptions during his career are the most by a collegiate player since 2000 and he is just one of 11 receivers to catch 300 or more passes over his college career over that same time span.

 

PlayerYrsSchoolRec 
Justin Hardy4East Carolina387
Ryan Broyles4Oklahoma349
Tyron Carrier4Houston320
Tommy Shuler4Marshall317
Taylor Stubblefield4Purdue316
Jordan White5Western Michigan306
Eric Page3Toledo306
Josh Davis4Marshall306
Antonio Brown3Central Michigan305
Taurean Henderson4Texas Tech303
Kendall Wright4Baylor302

 

Of course, you’re going to stack production by staying in school for the full four seasons and one of the biggest knocks on him is he may be a capped commodity and his production profile suggests there’s some merit to the claim. In terms of efficiency and share of the passing offense, Hardy broke out as a sophomore yet his production largely stayed neutral over the past two seasons while hanging right on the thresholds in efficiency.

 

YearTgt%TgtRec%Yd/TgtYd/Rec
201120.2%9964.6%6.610.3
201226.6%12371.5%9.012.5
201328.2%15175.5%8.511.3
201428.2%17170.8%8.712.3

 

I don’t want to take away from a player who stayed in school for the full tenure as there are real life implications in play other than football, but in a strict football future sense, Hardy may have benefited entering the draft last season. That’s not a death knell to his future because he remained steady as the feature receiver in his offense, but it may mean that he needs to end up in the right situation to become a safe floor player right off the bat in the NFL, instead of strictly remaining as a low ceiling one in a low volume passing attack.

 

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His physical profile illuminates the type of receiver he is, which is an intermediate pillar of dependency. His three cone time was the best recorded at the combine this season and is a top 10 score all-time at the event. He dominates the intermediate route tree running a plethora of sticks, slants, screens and option routes all at high level with his agility as the hallmark strength of his game.

In unison with his agility, he’s also a very intelligent and instinctive player, making himself available more than anyone in this class when the initial play breaks down. In this regard, a team with a high volume offense with an immediate need inside combined with a quarterback who extends plays would be an ideal fit to maximize his ceiling right away. A team like the Steelers would be an ideal destination for him if they were willing to shelve the dreams of Markus Wheaton being a major factor.  He really lacks a second gear in terms of speed to be a consistent vertical option against NFL caliber corners, but for a smaller receiver, his body positioning combined with good vertical, long arms and large hands make him a bigger target than his size suggests.


I believe Hardy is the best interior receiving option available after Amari Cooper in this class, but unlike Cooper, doesn’t have the surrounding attributes to extend beyond that capacity. While really refined at what he does best, Hardy’s type of receiver has shown to be cheaply replaceable in the NFL. He’s often compared to Jarvis Landry and my subjective comp would be Ryan Broyles, but we also have the luxury of pulling up his objective physical and final season production comparables.

 

PlayerSchoolYearDraftFY AgeHtWt40YDVertBroad20YS3CREC/GMYDS/GMTD/GM
Isaiah BurseFresno State2014UFA22.1701884.5831.01153.946.747.778.90.5
Jared AbbrederisWisconsin201417623.0711954.5030.51174.086.806.083.20.5
Davone BessHawaii2008UFA22.3701944.6431.51184.276.978.397.40.9
Eric PageToledo2012UFA21.3691864.5630.01123.986.959.690.90.8
Justin HardyEast Carolina2015TBD23.0701924.5636.51144.216.639.3114.90.8

 

All of his closest comps were players selected in the late fifth round and beyond, suggesting that he is in fact overvalued by the draft community this spring as a third and even fourth round option. The other bugaboo surrounding Hardy which also plays into why he may already have peaked as an asset, is that he’s an older prospect as he will turn 24 years old during his rookie season. That’s historically been a red flag for future fantasy production from receivers selected outside of the first round. Below is every rookie receiver outside of the first round that was 24 years old or older that posted 40 points or more in their first season and their subsequent top 30 scoring fantasy seasons.

 

PlayerTmYearAgeDraftGRecYdsTDFantPtTop30Yrs
Austin CollieIND20092412716606767109.70
Lawrence DawseyTAM1991246616558183106.71
Willie JacksonJAX1995241091453589588.91
Donnie AverySTL200824331553674398.30
Jordan ShipleyCIN2010258415526003780
Oronde GadsdenMIA199827UDFA16487137111.30
Bert EmanuelATL199424451646649487.33
Terrance WilliamsDAL20132474164473651020
Anthony ArmstrongWAS201027UDFA15448713104.10
Anthony CarterMIN19852533416438218129.18
Reggie BrownPHI200524351643571480.61
Will MooreNWE199525UDFA1443502156.20
Terrence WilkinsIND199924UDFA1642565477.70
Eugene GoodlowNOR1983256616414872610
Charlie JonesSDG1996241141441524476.40
Willie GreenDET19912519416395927101.21
Charlie WadeCHI1974244421439683171.81
Rod StreaterOAK201224UDFA1639584376.40
Brandon LaFellCAR201024781438468158.81
Fred BarnettPHI1990247716367218121.44
Eric MartinNOR1985241791635522475.17
Ray ButlerBAL198024881634574269.42
Snoop MinnisKAN200124771333511157.10
Charlie BrownWAS19822420193269081163
Chansi StuckeyNYJ20082523515323593540
Kenbrell ThompkinsNWE201325UDFA1232466470.60
David NelsonBUF201024UDFA1531353353.30
Quincy MorganCLE200124331630432254.91
Tony JonesHOU1990251531530409676.70
Tony MartinMIA1990251261629388247.66
D.J. HackettSEA20052415713284002520
Bobby ShawPIT1999241691528387356.70
James ScottCHI1976241931126512686.83
Rocket IsmailRAI1993241001326353140.82
Jubilee DunbarNOR1973247114234474681
Ernie JonesPHO1988241791623496366.61
Tony SimmonsNWE199824521123474365.40
Harry DouglasATL200824841623320149.90
Ryan BroylesDET2012245410223102430
Kelley WashingtonCIN200324651622299454.40
Larry BrunsonKAN1974252631422374243.10
Jack DolbinDEN197527UDFA1422421367.30
Hank BaskettPHI200624UDFA1622464256.40
Roydell WilliamsTEN2005241361021299241.90
Ruvell MartinGNB200624UDFA1321358141.80
Marc BoerigterKAN200224UDFA16204208900
Ernest WilfordJAX2004251201519271241.10
Dwight McDonaldSDG197524UDFA1419298347.80
Mitchell BrookinsBUF198424951618318140.50
Rod BarksdaleRAI198624UDFA1618434254.40
James BrimMIN198724UDFA318282249.80
George FarmerRAM198224248817344246.41
Don BeebeBUF198925821417317242.70
J.J. BirdenKAN1990252161115352352.20
Rick MassieDEN19872746913244448.40

 

Just nine of the 55 players here went on to post multiple top 30 fantasy seasons and none of those players was a rookie selected over the past 20 years. I do believe in a good situation that he can immediately exceed the 60 receptions that Austin Collie had in 2009 (the highest of the cohorts), but it’s still sobering on his overall outlook for future fantasy production.

With the dust settling, I see Hardy as a much better real football option than a fantasy one. The good news is that although he has garnered a lot of real football buzz, he’s remained at paltry prices on the fantasy market. Through early rookie ADP collected at Dynasty League Football, he’s on average the 31st player selected and the 15th receiver. It’s hard to really be negative about that cost as he could easily exceed that cost in year one. For teams contending this season with little receiver depth he’s a nice addition, but that’s an area of the draft where I’m inclined to make a play on chasing a ceiling rather than a floor.

 

Landing Spot

 

Hardy seemingly fell into good hands to the Falcons as the as the 16th receiver selected in the draft. The departure of Harry Douglas and his 74 targets a year ago allows Hardy to step right into a role he’s familiar with and can be successful in on the intermediate level since he’s really just a bigger version of Douglas.

PlayerDraftFY AgeHeightWeight40YDVertBroad20YS3C
Justin Hardy10723.0701924.5636.51144.216.63
Harry Douglas8423.0711764.5131.01204.126.57

Although Julio Jones and Roddy White occupied a massive piece of the team target share (46.2 percent in 2014), they each have missed games in the past two seasons. Hardy is a fine compliment to the offense and serviceable in a pinch if the top options go down for an abbreviated stint, but a complimentary piece is all he’s going to likely be as his profile suggests. New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has historically run a shallow distribution passing game that goes through his X receiver and the most targets his third receiver has gotten in a season is 73, with just two topping 60 targets over seven seasons.  That group of third options isn’t exactly full of decorated resumes, so given that Atlanta is more offensively inclined for passing volume than previous Shanahan stops, maybe the two can merge in at least maintaining a Douglas-like level of volume. Although he will never be a league winner, his attachment to a good quarterback, playing behind a 33-year old wide receiver in White who has been injured recently are enough to keep his stock near the top of the third round in rookie drafts.

Early 2015 Projection:  79.5 TGT/52.5 REC/597.9 YDS/1.6 TD

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